Recently we learned the Wizards entire slate of games for the upcoming 2013-14 season and highlighted a few of the schedule's notable matchups. Now we go a bit deeper by counting down the 10 most interesting contests.
Game No. 10: Wizards at Bobcats, January 7
Game No. 9: Wizards vs. Kings, February 9
Game No. 8: Wizards vs. Knicks, November 23
Game No. 7: Wizards vs. Warriors, January 5
Game No. 6: Wizards vs. Magic, December 2
Game No. 5: Wizards vs. Thunder, February 1
Game No. 4: Wizards vs. Bulls, January 13
Game No. 3: Wizards vs. Cavaliers, November 16
Game No. 2: Wizards vs. Heat, November 2
The interest: Practice is a good thing, but please don't start working on your booing LeBron James techniques until after reading this post. The two-time defending NBA champion visit Washington twice next season - well, three times if you count the October 15 preseason game. Since the second visit and fourth contest between the SE division foes isn't until the 81st game - which James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Ray Allen will likely be attending in street clothes - it's all in for the first meeting. Behind 22 points from Jordan Crawford and with Robert Griffin III watching courtside, the John Wall-less and 1-13 Wizards stunned Miami last December 105-101 despite a triple-double by James. At the time Wizards coach Randy Wittman called the win the perhaps the most satisfying of his career. The next three times the teams met, Miami claimed victory.
The Heat: In this sports era of roster turnover, Miami is a rarity. Forget that all the obvious principles are back. Basically all return entering training camp, including Chris "Birdman" Andersen, Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier, Norris Cole and for now, Juwan Howard. There is one sizeable addition and at a need position: center Greg Oden. Obviously whether the brittle big man stay healthy is the issue, but if Oden is around for the playoffs, Roy Hibbert might not have such an easy time around the rim. Indiana, Chicago, Brooklyn and perhaps New York are worthy contenders in the Eastern Conference. The Heat remains the team to beat until further notice.
The stat: In 32 career games against the Wizards, James is averaging 26.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 6.8 assists. In each case the numbers are slightly below his career averages of 27.6, 7.3 and 6.9.
The matchup: Whether Wade has the physical gifts for at this point of his career for consistent All-Star level production or not, the three-time NBA champion is a bad, bad man. Outside of Kobe Bryant, he's also the player all other shooting guards are measured against. That includes Bradley Beal, who faced Wade three times as a rookie, averaging 12.7 points on 35 percent shooting. Yet in some ways, the two have never really squared off. Wade never really faced the confident version of Bradley Beal, the one draining shot from all angles. The third and final head-to-head matchup took place January 6 or one game before Beal's game-winning floater stunned Oklahoma City and two games before Wall returned from his knee injury.